U.S. equity markets opened lower this morning and remained down throughout the day. The likely reason for the downturn is lowered expectations for corporate earnings which will get off the blocks after markets close today with results for Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA). In Europe, eurozone unemployment came in about as expected at 11.8% (more coverage here) and Greece’s four largest banks are said to be considering asking for more recapitalization funds. In Asia, markets closed mostly lower in sympathy with yesterday’s weak performance on U.S. markets. China reported that its iron ore inventory rose to 74.7 million metric tons in the first week of January, the first rise in stockpiles in nearly three months. This afternoon’s report on consumer credit showed that consumer borrowing rose by $16.1 billion in November, mostly on a jump in student loan and auto loan borrowing.
The U.S. dollar index rose 0.11% today, now at 80.347. The GSCI commodity index is up 0.3% at 648.69, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed essentially unchanged today, at $93.15 a barrel. Brent crude trades up fractionally at $112.08 a barrel. Natural gas is down 1.3% today at about $3.22 per million BTUs. Gold settled up 1% today at $1,662.20 an ounce.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 55 points to 13,328.92 (-0.41%), the NASDAQ fell about 7 points (-0.23%) to 3,091.81, and the S&P 500 fell -0.32% or nearly 5 points to 1,457.17.
There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades of note today, including Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) cut to ‘neutral’ at Sterne Agee (more coverage here); EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) cut to ‘market perform’ at William Blair; Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) cut to ‘neutral’ at J.P. Morgan; Genworth Financial Inc. (NYSE: GNW) cut to ‘underperform’ at Credit Suisse; and Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) raised to ‘overweight’ at Piper Jaffray, raised to ‘outperform’ at RBC, and reiterated as ‘buy’ with a price target of $95 at Argus.
Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading: Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON) is up 2.4% at $98.26 after posting a new 52-week high of $99.99 earlier today (more coverage here) and RPM International Inc. (NYSE: RPM) is down 1.4% at $30.14.
After markets close today and before they open tomorrow morning we are scheduled to hear from Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA), Apollo Group Inc. (NASDAQ: APOL), Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ), Greenbrier Companies Inc. (NYSE: GBX), and Helen of Troy Ltd. (NASDAQ: HELE).
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHN) is down 8.3% at $29.26. The steel maker posted a quarterly loss this morning, mainly as a result of weak U.S. economic growth.
Fusion-io Inc. (NYSE: FIO) is down 10.1% at $19.06. The data storage platform company got a ratings downgrade from ‘market perform’ to ‘neutral’, which sent investors heading for the exits.
SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) is down 8.5% at $14.62, after posting a new post-IPO high of $16.94 earlier today. The solar panel installation firm had no news today, so the downward move is likely the result of some profit taking.
Stay tuned for Wednesday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications
- 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report
- 1:00 p.m. – 10-year note auction